Our Top Three Winter Hikes in the Great Smoky Mountains

Hiking is a favorite activity for many in the Smoky Mountains but it isn’t an activity reserved just for the summer months. Hiking in the winter can be an exciting time with fewer crowds on the trails, different views to experience, and cooler temps to keep you comfortable. So put on your jacket, grab a friend, and let’s get hiking with one of these great three winter hikes in the Smoky Mountains!

Winter Hike #1 Laurels Falls

Laurels Falls is always a popular winter hike in the Smoky Mountains. Featuring an 80-foot high waterfall, Laurel Falls has two levels, divided by a walkway.   It’s named form the mountain laurel, an evergreen shrub found in the area. Laurels Falls is one of the most popular destinations in the park during both the summer months and the winter months but visitors will find fewer crowds during the winter months.

Winter Hike #2 Alum Cave

Next is the Alum Cave trail. The first section of the Alum Cave you will come to is Arch Rock. It was formed by the softer rock freezing and thawing, then eroding, leaving only the harder rock behind. Stairs were then carved into the actual stone, leaving an elegant fixture of the trail.

The trail has a relatively gentle grade making it fun for the whole crew.

At 2.2 miles, hikers will get to the main event, Alum Cave, which isn’t a cave at all. Its a concaved bluff, about 80 feet in height and roughly 500 feet in length.

Winter Hike #3 Porters Creek 

Our last trail is an old gravel road. Porters creek crosses through a dense forest of moss-covered trees and rocks and follows along the banks. Traveling two-thirds of a mile from the trailhead several old stone walls, these are the remnants from the Elbert Cantrell farmstead constructed back in the early 1900s. 

Next, you’ll see the Ownby Cemetery. It dates back to the first part of the 20th century! After crossing over a small bridge a mile from the trailhead, you’ll find a fork in the road, if you take spur trail you’ll find yet another historic farm site, the John Messer farm site.

If these winter hikes sound like your cup of tea, grab a friend and find the perfect cabin to use as your home base. One with a hot tub to soak after a day of hiking sounds heavenly, doesn’t it?